A late night stroll around Lake Wendouree has led to a chance meeting between a Ballarat woman and an unnamed homeless man – and sparked a social media rally to assist him.
Alfredton resident Brooke Wright saw the man about 1am on Wednesday lying under a tree in the botanical gardens listening to music on his phone. She noticed he’d fallen asleep with his dog wandering nearby and thought she might buy the man a hamburger. Leaving it by his head, she felt he may need some other things to help him get through the night.
“It was terrible. It was cold, he was under a tree and I thought ‘I've got just so much food at home – maybe other people do too.’”
So Ms Wright put a message out on Facebook for friends to assist – and even late at night she had five people contact her to help.
“They all wanted to come for a drive with me,” Ms Wright said. “One of the men who donated used to be homeless too. So I’ve got vitamins, a homeless swag, boots … I’ve got heaps of stuff there.
“The (former) homeless man said, ‘the swag’s not much, but I’ve used it … and it works fine’ … that was really sad.”
Ms Wright has had some trouble finding the man – she thinks his name might be ‘Justin’ and his dog ‘Mangoes’ – since then, although he’s been seen at a supermarket and a food store she says.
“Apparently he goes to the IGA quite a bit, and to Country Casseroles.”
The donated goods have been collected at the Ballarat East Bowling Club and anything that’s not able to be used in Ballarat, Ms Wright will donate in Melbourne.
In the coming weeks The Courier will be looking at the plight of the homeless in Ballarat. We will be speaking to welfare and community groups who assist those who find themselves without permanent accommodation or who rely on the assistance of friends; and to some of the homeless themselves – people who find themselves without suitable housing or shelter.
It was terrible. It was cold, he was under a tree, and I thought ‘I've got just so much food at home – maybe other people do too.- - Brooke Wright
If you’ve seen ‘Justin’ or you’d like to help, contact email@example.com
Update: Our readers have informed us that “Justin” is not currently homeless.
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